Laura

Laura with Shelby Carpenter

A complex psychological thriller masquerading as a film noir, 1944’s Laura is about three men who are bewitched by a woman so ethereally, transcendentally beguiling that it is entirely appropriate that, when director Otto Preminger takes the curtain up, Laura (Gene Tierney) is already dead. What follows is a basic whodunit pulled in various unusual directions. A for-instance: the cop on the case, Detective McPherson (Dana Andrews), invites one of the men suspected of killing her, Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), to accompany him while he cross-examines other witnesses. What cop does that? Another: the cop doesn’t do very much actual investigating and instead spends an inordinate amount of time in the dead woman’s … Read more

Daisy Kenyon

Joan Crawford and Henry Fonda

Let’s just get this out of the way. Daisy Kenyon isn’t a film noir, even though it features on many noir “best of” lists. It’s a romantic melodrama of a very peculiar sort – “High powered melodrama surefire for the femme market” is how Variety described it on its release in 1947, in their odd, truncated way of communicating. More up-to-the-minute viewpoints can be found on Amazon – “NOT a true example of film noir”… “certainly not a film noir”… “DEFINITELY NOT FILM NOIR” – three of many. However, the tagging persists. It’s in the Fox Film Noir series of movies, its Amazon page pegs it as “Mystery & Suspense/Film Noir”, which is doubly, … Read more